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Outdoor workout zones offer chance to get into shape for free

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ATLANTA -

Getting in shape isn't cheap. The average gym membership is about $50 a month, and often you're required to sign a yearly contract. If you change your mind, you're stuck for a while.

But you can get your workout fix for free at a dozen local parks.

There's nothing sweeter than getting something for nothing. That's what outdoor workout zones offer -- a chance to get in shape without paying a dime. They're springing up in city parks all over Atlanta. The goal is to make exercise and health something all of us can afford.

Blessing Heard, 16, found one in Atlanta's Coan Park, near her grandmother's house.
 
"It looked new and fun, so I wanted to see what it was," said Heard.

Think of it as a playground for grownups who want to get in shape.  Each fitness zone -- Atlanta has 12 of them now -- is packed with circuit training equipment that allows you to use your body weight as resistance.
    
Atlanta City Parks Director Doug Voss says this is the new face of public parks.

"The machines have just gotten that much better, you used to have a chin up bar, now you have machines out here that work every part of your body. And they're actually pretty easy to use," said Voss.

They're also free. The City of Atlanta Parks Department worked with neighborhood groups to raise money to buy the equipment. Each zone is designed for the people who live around it.
    
Voss says the idea is to put fitness within everybody's reach.

"But also, the cost of a gym membership is expensive. Our parks are wonderful. You've got so many different opportunities. And a lot of times we've seen that parents will come out, they've got a child on the playground, as long as there's good supervision there, they can come over and workout at the same time, then they've got a perfect opportunity to come work out," Voss said.

The fitness zones are part of a national trend to build healthier communities. If you don't live in Atlanta, but you want to find resources like this in your community, click here for more information.

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